What's Your Dog's Poo is Telling You?

October 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM by Nikki Wardle

Color of Dog poop

If you're a dog owner, you put up with your fair share of crap. Literally. There's a lot of poop-scooping, bagging, examining, and cleaning up that comes with having a furry family member, and responsible pet owners know that it's not all sunshine and daisies. It's your duty (pun definitely intended) to pay attention to what's coming out of your dog's business end, and although you don't have to get too dirty, a little information can go a long way toward making knowing if your canine is having tummy troubles or not. 

Without further ado: here's what your dog's poo is telling you.

Dog Feces Color and Consistency

If Fido just dropped a doozy and you're surprised by the color, consistency, or sheer volume (whoa), you may be wondering what it all means. Here's a quick primer.

Normal Dog Poop

Before you can recognize inconsistencies, you need to know what's normal for your dog. Of course, this varies from breed to breed and from dog to dog as well. In general, you should notice that your dog's poop doesn't change drastically on a regular basis. It should be not too soft (diarrhea) or watery. On the other spectrum, it shouldn't be too hard, either: if your dog seems to strain or have trouble passing small amounts of rock-hard stool, you're looking at constipation issues. Normal dog poop will be about medium-brown in color and a bit squishy. Sorry for the visual.

All the Colors of the Fecal Rainbow

The first indication that something is up with your dog's diet or health may be in the color of their poop. Here's a color guide (not the kind you'd use to paint your home interior, though) and when you should be concerned.

  • Black or Very Dark Poop: Tarry, sticky, dark-colored poop may be a sign of a gastrointestinal ulcer or stomach ulcer. This is cause for a call to the vet right away. Sometimes vets see this issue in dogs who humans have given medications such as aspirin, so it's important to note that you should never give human meds to dogs.
  • Red or Bloody Stool: Bleeding is never a good sign. If your dog's poop appears to be bloody, it could be an indication of bleeding in the GI tract or an injury. Call your vet to get your dog examined.
  • Pink or Purple Poop: Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) kills many dogs every year, and one of its signature symptoms is pink or purple-ish dog poop. Fast treatment will protect your dog's health. Call your vet immediately.
  • Grey, "Greasy" Poop: Maldigestion or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) can cause poop that looks like it's greasy or shiny. With your vet's help, you can treat your dog's EPI. Bring a stool sample and your dog into the veterinarian.
  • Yellow Poop: Mustard-yellow, mucusy poop usually indicates a diet change that your dog isn't taking well—or a few too many human treats. Keep an eye on your dog to notice any discomfort.
  • White Specks: If you notice white specks that look like grains of rice in your dog's stool, you probably see worms. This is very treatable. Give your vet a call.

Remember, if your taking your pooch to the vet, bag the smelly stuff too. Your vet will want to examine the excrement as well.

Preventing Poop Issues

Many irregularities in your dog's poop will probably result from diet issues. That's why it's important to never give your dog human food that can hurt their stomach and keep their food consistent. Also, try to avoid switching dog food brands to often, and only buy high-quality, age-appropriate food.

Keep your dog out of trash cans and compost piles, and don't let him or her eat plants that could cause poisoning.

If you have any questions about your dog's health or diet, contact us anytime.

Topics: Pet Care

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has been writing for Intermountain Pet Hospital since 2014.